Destinee Dickson’s “sparking moment” came when her fifth-grade class watched Barack Obama’s inaugural address. It was the first time Dickson could see herself in politics and the day she realized her goal of a future career in politics or activism.
She brought that goal to the University of Oklahoma, where she double majored in political science and women’s and gender studies. Now, her career path has led her to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), where she started in February as a National Political Advocacy Department assistant within the Liberty Division. Dickson is currently working remotely but once the ACLU offices open back up, she will be moving to Washington, D.C.
In her role, Dickson assists with campaign strategy work on the local, state, and federal levels. Just a few weeks into the job, she is already active on projects like trying to get COVID-19 evictions stopped in Delaware, focusing on reproductive freedom in New Mexico, and working to remove gender markers on identification. Dickson is also playing a role in trying to get the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act passed in the Senate.
Dickson said she has always admired the work the organization has done and is honored to have been selected for the job from the 950 applicants.
“The ACLU is truly an opportunity for me to propel myself to the next level on a national scale with an organization that's been around for more than 100 years and done groundbreaking work for not only women’s issues but also for racial justice issues,” Dickson explained. “It's been really cool to see how an organization of this scale and caliber works.”
As a student, Dickson worked in the OU Office of Admissions and Recruitment for Diversity Enrichment Programs and as a tour guide. Although she did not attend the conference, Dickson served on the executive committee for High School Leadership Conference all four years she was on campus.
“OU gave me a toolkit to propel me in my role as a rising career professional that I'll be able to take with me forever. I will always be grateful for the relationships and connections that I have at OU and also the academic education and opportunities that I received.”
- Destinee Dickson
“I’ve always been big into recruiting and being involved with students because it’s an opportunity for me to help them find their leadership potential,” Dickson stated. “Even if students decide OU isn’t the place for them, at least they now are going back to equip, empower, and inspire themselves and their high schools.”
Dickson was also active with the Black Student Association, working as a special projects coordinator, assisting with the Big XII Conference on Black Student Government, spearheading the Black Emergency Response Team, and helping to coordinate a “Better Together” march. She is also a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Additionally, Dickson was a civic engagement fellow for OU’s Carl Albert Center.
Dickson has also completed a range of internships, including as a policy research intern for Women’s Action for New Directions in Washington, D.C., and a semester at the Oklahoma State Capitol working with Representative Cyndi Munson during her time as a student.
Before securing her full-time job at the ACLU, Dickson continued to gain valuable internship experience, including as a congressional intern for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation last summer. She also worked as a legal assistant for Coyle Law Firm in Oklahoma City. In the fall, Dickson was a voter mobilization strategist for MoveOn and completed a fellowship through Running Start, serving as a legislative intern for Congresswoman Yvette Clarke through the nonpartisan organization designed for women who want to run for office someday.
In the future, Dickson plans to attend law school and wants to one day give back to her community as a practicing attorney in the area of civil rights and liberties. Her political aspirations include running for office on a national level or earning a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. She said being on the Supreme Court has been a long-time dream of hers and is probably one of the reasons why she applied to the ACLU, where former justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg got her start.
Regardless of where her career path takes her, OU provided Dickson with the foundation she needs to be successful and achieve her goals.
“OU gave me a toolkit to propel me in my role as a rising career professional that I'll be able to take with me forever,” Dickson shared. “I will always be grateful for the relationships and connections that I have at OU and also the academic education and opportunities that I received.”